Driving in the East Bay can be extremely frustrating. Other people may not know how to drive, drive too slow, or are causing you problems because they are busy texting on their phones. It is normal to get upset but it can be a problem if your anger gets the better of you. Aggressive driving or making threats can increase the risk of an accident and you may be found to be at fault. In some cases, you may even face an arrest after a road rage incident.
After an arrest, it may be too late to do anything about the incident. However, a phone call to the right East Bay criminal defense attorney can make the difference in whether you go to jail or not. Contact an experienced California defense lawyer in Alameda or Contra Costa County who can explain your rights and legal defense options to reduce the risk of ending up with a criminal record.
Is Road Rage a Crime in California?
Road rage is not a specific criminal offense in California. However, you can still be arrested and charged with a crime because of a road rage incident. Depending on what occurs during a driving conflict, one or multiple drivers could be charged with:
- Criminal threats
- Reckless driving
- Street racing
- Drunk driving
- Injury DUI
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Resisting arrest
- Evading police
DUI and Road Rage
Alcohol can impair our brain function and physical function. In the same way that alcohol may make some people feel more relaxed, it can also increase risk-taking behavior. Having a few drinks too many may increase anxiety and stress, causing people to overreact to a situation they would normally ignore. For example, if a driver who is drunk or impaired by drugs is cut off by another driver, they may react by engaging in threatening driving or tailgating. This could lead to an accident.
The penalties for a first offense DUI can include jail time of up to 6 months, fines of up to $1,000 or more (once surcharges and mandatory assessments are added), a suspended driver's license, and the possibility of having an interlock ignition device placed in your vehicle. If you are arrested for a DUI, you only have 10 days to request a DMV per se hearing or your license will be administratively suspended. If you contact your East Bay DUI defense lawyer to request an administrative hearing, the driver's license suspension will be postponed. The postponement will continue until the outcome of your administrative hearing.
Injury DUI Charges
Even if the impaired driver thinks the accident was caused by the other driver, when the police show up, they will place the impaired driver under arrest for drunk driving. It may be more difficult for the impaired driver to show that the accident was caused by the other driver when there is evidence of driving under the influence. This can also lead to civil liability for the costs of the accident, including a possible personal injury lawsuit if the other driver suffered an injury.
DUI and Assault
After a car accident, the drivers involved are supposed to exchange information, including contact information and insurance information. After a road rage accident, the people may instead engage in threatening behavior or violence. This could lead to additional criminal charges.
Assault is the unlawful attempt of an individual to cause harm, injury, or death to another person. Battery is the unlawful and violent use of force against another person with the intent to cause injury, harm, or death. Under California Penal Code §422, threatening to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury is a criminal threat. This means you could face assault charges even if you never caused any injury.
Road rage can even be treated as assault with a deadly weapon when the driver tries to hit the other vehicle or even come close to hitting the driver or passenger. A car can be considered a deadly weapon because it is an object or instrument that is capable of causing death or great bodily injury. Assault with a deadly weapon is punishable by imprisonment for 2, 3, or 4 years in county jail.
Road Rage Hit and Run DUI
Alternatively, after a road rage accident, the impaired driver may realize they will be in trouble and try to drive away. Leaving the scene of an accident without stopping can result in additional hit-and-run charges. The police in Contra Costa County may not respond to every minor car accident. However, if the accident involved a driver trying to leave the scene, an injury accident, or a suspected drunk driver, the police will be more likely to respond and may place the driver under arrest on suspicion of criminal charges.
After a Road Rage Arrest in the East Bay California
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 38 years of criminal defense experience and understands the consequences involved for drivers after a vehicle arrest. Representing individuals in Contra Costa and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal defense laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.